GUARDIAN OF THE SKIES
The following article was published by
The Sun on Tuesday 22nd August
Stunning pictures of forgotten WW2 base RAF
Acklington show hero Brit airmen posing with
their spitfires and downed Nazi bombers
The Northumberland airfield at Acklington
protected the vital industrial sites of the
HERO World War Two pilots who defended Britain’s
skies from their base at a forgotten airfield
are celebrated in this incredible collection of
The airmen of RAF Acklington are shown posing
next to Spitfires and Hurricanes, and enjoying
down-time between missions.
Pilots of the 610 Squadron pose for a photo at
RAF Acklington in 1940
Airmen of the 72 Squadron at RAF Acklington
gather for a photo on a Spitfire
In other shots, some men can be seen straddling
the huge propeller of a hurricane as a group of
airmen gather for squadron photos.
A downed German jet is also seen floating in the
The images form part of book RAF Acklington:
Guardian of the Northern Skies by Malcolm Fife.
Acklington served as Britain’s main air base for
the North, defending the vital space above some
of the largest industrial areas in the land.
However, it wasn’t initially expected to play
such a vital role in the war effort.
Malcolm explained: “Acklington Airfield was
Fighter Command’s most northerly airfield in
England during the Battle of Britain.
Later in its life RAF Acklington was home to
more modern fighters like this Hawker Hunter F6
as part of its flight-training school.
A German Dornier Do18 lies crash-landed in
the North Sea in October 1939. It was used to
rescue crashed aircrew
Squadron Leader S. Pietraszjewicz of 315
Squadron leans against his Hawker Hurricane
In early 1950 85 Squadron returned to RAF
Acklington for training in De Havilland
72 Squadron Supermarine Spitfires head off
the coast in 1941 to defend an area that was a
magnet for German bombers for most of the war
“It was also one of the most important in the
region throughout the Second World War. This
came about more by accident than design.
“Shortly before the outbreak of hostilities, it
had opened as a training station where pilots
were given the opportunity to fire live weapons
and drop bombs on the nearby ranges at Druridge
“With the declaration of war, it was transferred
to Fighter Command, as military airfields in
north-east England were few and far between.
“The fighter aircraft of Acklington were tasked
to defend what was one of Britain’s most
important industrial conurbations.
“Acklington airfield was situated on the edge of
the Northumberland and Durham coalfield.
“There were coal mines and slag heaps in its
vicinity, but much of the area was still
farmland. Further south, industry dominated the
“The large cranes of the shipbuilding industry
lined the rivers Tyne and Wear, and there were
numerous other industries including iron and
steel production and armaments manufacturing
that acted as a magnet for German bombers for
most of the war.”
72 Squadron A-Flight ground crew members take
a break from ensuring the safe take-off of jets
from Fighter Command’s most northerly airfield
A group of 43 Squadron pilots stick the
unit’s fighting cock emblem onto the nose of a
Hawker Hurricane in 1942
A Gloster Meteor of 263 Squadron lies crippled
on the airfield after a landing accident in 1946
34 Squadron pilots sit ready to scramble at
The book looks closely at how the airbase
evolved over the duration of the war to become
so vitally important to Britain’s war effort,
with the Northern industrial cities remaining a
target for the Luftwaffe even after the Battle
of Britain had been won.
Fife also examines the role of the airbase after
the war, detailing its role in the Cold War and
as a flight-training school before it was closed
for good in 1970.
Kiwi Don Whitten from 43 Squadron in front of
a Hawker Hurricane
A Miles Martinet was a type of tug aircraft
that operated from the base into the late 1940s